Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani insisted on Sunday that a central claim of fired FBI Director James Comey – one that could land the president in legal hot water – is completely false.
Comey wrote in a private memo following a February 2017 meeting with Trump that the newly minted president had asked him to tone down the investigative pressure on former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Not so, Giuliani claimed.
Flynn was bounced from the White House after just 24 days on the job, an event Trump has said was a consequence of Flynn’s lies to the FBI about his pre-inauguration contacts with a now-former Russian ambassador.
Comey, however, has claimed the president asked him whether there was a FISA investigation into Flynn, and suggested he should go easy on the retired lieutenant general and consider ‘letting Flynn go.’
‘I was so stunned by the conversation that I just took it in,’ he told a Senate panel in June 2017.
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Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ program that the president and later-fired FBI Director James Comey never discussed the idea of going easy on disgraced former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
Trump and Comey met early in 2017 and the two men’s recollections are different; Comey wrote his down in the car afterward
Comey has conceded in congressional testimony that Trump never ordered him to back off from investigating Flynn, who later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his late 2016 contacts with Russia’s then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak
Trump’s exact words, according to Comey – who memorialized them on paper afterward – were: ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is good guy. I hope you can let this go.’
Giuliani said on Sunday that none of it ever happened.
‘There was no conversation about Michael Flynn. The president didn’t find out that Comey believed there was until about – I think it was February when it supposedly took place,’ he said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ program.
Democrats have seized on Comey’s claim to the contrary as evidence that Trump obstructed justice by interfering with an intelligence investigation that could establish ties between the Trump transition and the Russian government.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s lengthy probe into such purported but unproven links has been a consistent distraction for the Trump administration. And Comey’s claims, made while he was working on a memoir that clobbered Trump, have escalated the tension.
But Giuliani noted Sunday that before Comey released his memo to the media through a third party, the former lawman assured senator sthat Trump and his team never obstructed his ongoing investigations.
‘[The] memo came out in May ,’ Giuliani said. ‘And in between, Comey testified under oath: In no way had he been obstructed at any time.’
‘Then all of the sudden in May he says he felt obstructed. He felt pressured by that comment, “you should go easy on Flynn.” So we maintain the President didn’t say that.’
What Comey said in his June 2017 congressional grilling is that ‘I don’t think it’s for me to say whether the conversation I had with the president was an effort to obstruct.’
But he did concede that Trump’s expression of ‘hope’ that Flynn, a decorated military officer, could save face, didn’t constitute a criminal act.
‘Those words are not an order,’ Comey conceded.
The president has insisted in the past that he never ‘asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn’; it matters because intervening in a criminal probe about the retired general coud be seen as obstruction of justice
Giuliani said last month during a Sunday broadcast of ABC’s ‘This Week’ show that Trump ‘didn’t direct’ Comey to fold his Flynn investigation during the fateful February 20176 one-on-one.
‘He didn’t direct him to do that,’ Giuliani said then. ‘What he said was, “Can you, can you give him a break?”‘
Giuliani’s interview Sunday isn’t the first time the White House has disputed Comey’s version of events.
Trump himself tweeted in December 2017, amid a digital tirade against his own Justice Department, that ‘I never asked Comey to stop investigating Flynn.’
‘Just more Fake News covering another Comey lie!’
Flynn had pleaded guilty a week earlier to a single count of lying to the FBI.
READ ALL THE SECRET JAMES COMEY MEMOS
Here are all 15 of the memos James Comey sent to FBI bosses after he met Trump